A story of perseverance: LUO student and lieutenant fighting the COVID-19 outbreak in one of the hardest hit locations: jail

Plenty are facing difficulties due to COVID-19, but a Liberty Online student is rising above, combatting the virus at work while also working toward his degree. 

Lt. Vincent Red, a shift commander at a Florida jail, was completing paperwork in his office when he received a call from the deputy running the scanner at the jail entrance. Red went straight to the scanner and found one of the deputies crying after showing up to work with an intense cough. 

Usually this sort of situation would not be a problem, but coughing is a key symptom of COVID-19.

Lt. Red in full police uniform after attending a law enforcement ceremony

Following procedures implemented to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks in their jails, Red gave the deputy the hotline number to report her symptoms and get her tested immediately. 

If the test was positive, Red would conduct a contact tracing investigation to alert any staff or inmate she had contact with. Ensuring safety for staff is Red’s top priority, so this investigation would complement procedures already in place to prevent the spread.

These procedures include temperature checks, decontamination twice a shift, mandatory face masks and quarantined units.

“We are dealing with coronavirus on top of the violence that exists in the jail,” Red said, “so that’s a pretty serious job, and I knew that when I took this job, but now it’s compounding because of this coronavirus.”

Since then, one deputy and numerous inmates have contracted the virus, complicating the already violent environment in the jail. 

According to Sgt. Sergio Barreto, who worked under him for three years, Red is the best person to handle the tense environment escalated by the virus. Barreto said Red is “professional, honest, caring, and hard-working.” Referencing Red’s exceptional work before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, Barreto praised his commitment to safety and his will to look out for others.

“I wish there was more leaders like him because he cares about the employee, not just the job, but he cares about the employee, and he fixes problems before they get out of hand,” Barreto said.

Red is dual certified in law enforcement and corrections, and works in one of the largest law enforcement agencies in Florida, demonstrating excellence and commitment to service. He has received multiple accolades for his work, including four honorable service awards.

In addition to his challenging position, Red is concurrently working toward his associate degree in interdisciplinary studies at Liberty University Online. Red’s motivation is to learn more about God and gain a broader knowledge of his religion. 

Despite the challenging circumstances, Red has maintained a 4.0 GPA and hopes to work towards a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at Liberty. He was accepted into The National Society of Collegiate Scholars in April, a premier honors society with notable members including former President Jimmy Carter and Sen. John McCain. 

“The induction adds credibility to the fact that you can succeed in life through God even under the tremendous, stressful conditions that I’m under right now,” Red said.

On his days off from work, Lt. Red spends time working on his coursework through Liberty University Online.

Red has thrived on multiple fronts during difficult times, and he believes that God is the primary source of his success, perseverance and dedication. He views his career in law enforcement as a way to touch people from all walks of life. While he may not be able to directly talk about his faith in all situations, Red has found ways to lead by example, spread encouragement and connect with fellow Christians in the workplace. 

“As a Christian, I learned that I’m going to rise above,” Red said. “I always lead from the front and lead by example and keep everybody calm and encourage, inspire, guide and train.”

Like many of the situations Red has found himself in, the story at the scanner ends well. He was able to calm some of the deputy’s nerves and, as a fellow Christian, speak with her about the power of God in the situation. A week later, the relieved deputy called to tell him the COVID-19 test was negative. 

Red recognizes that his story has the capability to act as an inspiring source for others. He firmly believes that belief in God can allow anyone, regardless of their situation, to overcome obstacles. 

“No matter what challenges you encounter in life, no matter what traumatic experiences you have, you can overcome it through God,” Red said.

Jacqueline Hale is the Feature editor. Luke Randle, asst. Feature editor, contributed to this report.

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